Friday, 4 May 2018

Lisbon - the Discoveries monument and the MAAT Museum - Day 10

On Saturday 7th April, we woke up to another cool and cloudy day.
After a slow morning the four of us plus my nephew from South Africa went into Lisbon for some sightseeing.
We started with the Discoveries Monument (Padrão dos Descobrimentos) in the Belem area.

On the bank of the Tagus River estuary, next to the Belem Marina, this monument celebrates the Portuguese age of discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries.
It was conceived in 1939 by Portuguese architect Jose Angelo Cottinelli Telmo and sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida for the Portuguese World Exhibition of 1940. It was at first a temporary construction located just across the road at Praça do Império (Empire Square) in front of the Jerónimos Monastery, but demolished in 1943 after the exposition.
A new and larger monument was later constructed in cement and rose tinted stone, and the statues sculpted from limestone from the region of Sintra, which was inaugurated in August 1960 to mark the fifth centennial of the death of Henry the Navegator.
The interior includes an auditorium, exhibition hall and an observation deck which can be reached via an elevator or stairs with views of the river and the many attractions of the Belem neighbourhood like the Belém Tower and the Jerónimos Monastery which date from the Age of Discovery.

The bottom of the 52 mt (171ft) high monument with the shape of the prow of a caravel has a total of 33 plaster figures with Henry the Navigator at the top in the middle and 16 figures on either side of the ramp which represent figures from the Age of Discovery - monarchs, explorers, cartographers, artists, scientists and missionaries, each figure showing movement towards the sea.

The 50mt (160ft) diameter Compass Rose in front of the monument was gifted by the South African government, and executed with different types of limestone found around the Sintra area. It includes a 14mt wide medieval map of the world showing the routes of the Portuguese caravels.

Compass rose square
From above - the square with the compass rose and the world map in the center (photo from the net)

Lunch time arrived and we had lunch at Portugália Cervejaria (Portugalia Beerhouse) which has a fabulous location right on top of the pond with views to the Discoveries Monument.
Portugalia, which opened in 1925 as a beer hall and then developed into a restaurant, is famous for its steaks and sauces and seafood dishes. We found the food very nice - in the photo is my Codfish with chips and my daughter's is a Shellfish bread stew. Prices were probably a bit higher than average, service was very good and the view was tops!
Two adults (yes, adults) played with small remote controlled sailing boats and we followed their progress through the glass windows, as well as the ducks that glided past.

Portugalia restaurant on the pond, with the Jeronimos Monastery across the road to the right
The famous steak on Portugalia's menu cover, a tile panel around the restaurant, our food, sugar packets with funny sayings - an empty tummy doesn't bring happiness and it's good to fast after dinner

A 15 minute walk away or a few minutes by car is the MAAT - Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology which we visited next.
This ultra modern riverfront building was designed by a British architecture firm - Amanda Levete Architects and features a pedestrian area on the rooftop with views over Lisbon and the Tagus river, making it a unique space. The new building which opened in October 2016 is connected via a landscaped garden to the Tejo Power station next door. 

The MAAT Museum

The Tejo Power Station/Electricity Museum (as seen from the Coach Museum across the road)

We paid the entry fee for both museums and started with the MAAT. Down a ramp was a dimly lit huge room with some glass sculptures, beanbags on the floor and films about art on the walls. In the next room there was an art exhibition by a young Portuguese artist - hundreds of collages. Most of them were old posters where he had drawn over them or glued something over them. I thought of Elizabeth's intricate collages and thought she had a lot more interesting pieces! The other exhibition room was being set up at the time, so no visitors.  So mostly, it's the building's architecture and grandeur that are on show.

Next door at the Electricity Museum, the visit was a lot more interesting, at least for the men who enjoyed reading all about the machinery, the pipes, the boilers, the coal roam, the electrical experiments, etc.
The brick building used to be the thermo-electric power plant which supplied power to the entire region of Lisbon from 1909 to 1972. In 1986 the building was classified as a heritage building, and  it started operating as a museum from 1990.
Between 2001 and 2005 the building underwent some renovations, reopening to the public in 2006 with a more educational and dynamic content.
The Tejo Power Station was crucial to Lisbon's modernisation, with several generations of men working by the hot boilers to that others would have lights in their homes or travel on electric trams or walk through Lisbon's well lit streets.

The MAAT Museum and the Electricity Museum next door. The 25th of April bridge in the distance with dolphins painted on the base

The boilers, machinery,  coal workers

An electrical car from 1975, the power plant s seen from a video, heat and electrical experiments

On show was an electrical car - the Enfield 8000, from 1975, built in the UK and owned by the CRGE, the United Gas and Electric Companies. It would reach a maximum speed of 64km/h and had an autonomy between 40 to 90km depending on route and conditions.
There were a lot of electrical experiments and a lot of kids and adults eagerly tried all of them.

Back to the MAAT, we climbed to the roof to get the views over part of Lisbon and to the other side of the Tagus River.  I have to say the views were amazing and free.

Views from the top of the Maat Museum - the brown brick building is the Electricity Museum
The 25th of April bridge over the Tagus River with statue of Christ the Redeemer on the other side
The MAAT museum with the sun setting behind it and you can see some people on the roof looking at the views

Before returning home we I convinced the family to drive to the city centre so I could photograph a series of murals near the Amoreiras Shopping Centre - called the Wall of Fame, where dozens of murals are painted.
The four of them took off to a coffee shop while I walked around the wall taking a picture of every one of them, phew...hard work!
When I returned to them we bought a few things at the mini market next to the coffee shop and on the way home called my sisters and parents so they would come and have a simple dinner at our place.

Interesting outdoor tables and chairs, Amoreiras shopping centre (shiny towers in the distance), the wall of murals and a giant guitar
The following day the wedding would take place, so we all had an early night.


  1. Those figures have a strong message and the size is impressive.
    Boys are boys, no matter which age, Sami :-)
    Ewww working near hot boilers would be no option for me! Must have been a tough and dangerous job.
    From the side the MAAT looks a bit like a whale.
    Yay for mural hunting!
    Rock in Rio... wish I´d been to the Queen concert in 1985!

    1. It is an impressive monument Iris! Those men would have had a hard time with the heat and noise of the machines.
      Hadn't thought of it, but it does look like a whale.

  2. The monument and both of the museums are spectacular!

    1. Thanks William, glad you enjoyed them.

  3. That monument is so impressive! And so if your dinner. Looks like you really maximized your time and saw loads of really impressive museums during your visit. What fun photos!

    1. Thanks Jeanie, we did our best with the short time we had. Glad you enjoyed our lunch photos too.

  4. What an amazing trip Sami, your posts have been brilliant! Lisbon looks like a beautiful city. I recognise a bit of the architecture and a few of the memorials from when Jose was doing his blog.

    1. Oh yes I'm sure you would have seen some or most of these monuments in his blog. Thanks Grace.

  5. Mais um dia feliz! Ainda não fomos ao MAAT, depois da renovação. Não há exposição que nos convença a tal... Adorámos o Museu da Electricidade quando lá fomos. Imaginar as pessoas a trabalhar lá com barulhos enormes e calor do mais quente que há...
    Gosto tanto de estar no topo do Padrão a ver o "Mundo". à muitos anos atrás, morava eu em Algés, fui lá para ver uma exposição de um primo (Daniel Vidas, pintor muito pouco conhecido) e aproveitei para subir e tirar uma foto da Rosa dos Ventos - acho que se vêm uma ou duas pessoas :-)
    Bom fim de semana

    1. As exposicaoes nao me convenceram tambem Paula, valeu o Museu da Electricidade. Nunca subi ao Padrao dos Descobrimentos por isso nunca vi o mapa mundi de cima, mas deve ser impressionante.

  6. The Discoveries Monument is incredible, impressive, daunting, and breathtaking. The sheer size was unbelievable, and your photos put the figures in perspective when you showed real people in the mix.

    That map is amazing. Just think, with long enough legs you could stand in both Africa and Europe at the same time.

    The MAAT looked very interesting, and so did the collages. MOST impressive. Had to laugh that you thought of my collages.

    Being a mechanical engineer (undergrad degree), I was fascinated by the Electricity Museum. I really enjoyed seeing all the old machinery and the way they put the museum artifacts and displays together.

    I was so impressed by the juxtaposition of the modern MAAT with the Electricity Museum. I really, really, really, really enjoyed these museums!

    1. Thanks Elizabeth, the monument is really impressive and I find the statues very well done.
      I was funny because as I entered the room and saw the collages I thought of you and how you would have spent hours there looking through every one of them, there were hundreds!
      You would have enjoyed the electricity museum then and the displays and information were all very well laid out.

  7. Belas fotografias da linda Lisboa uma cidade que o mundo está a descobrir.
    Um abraço e bom fim-de-semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa

    1. Bem verdade Francisco, Lisboa e nao so, esta cheio de turistas que estao agora a descobrir os encantos Portugueses.

  8. Both are stunning buildings I remember admiring, especially the old power station. That was another very full day for you.

    1. Thanks Andrew, you would have seen both from your bus tours. I also like the power station building.

  9. The monument is really stunning.
    You certainly enjoyed a full day here Sami.

    All the best Jan

  10. you are a marvellous guide Sami. I esspecially love Lisboa's pictures and explanations. It recalls me places i like a lot. I haver to go back there

  11. Dearest Sami,
    Such a joy to be taken back to our footsteps from the 90s! We LOVED this area, so rich in history and yes, the Portuguese were one of the very first explorers to e.g. the Far East. Such a rich history! Great photos and one could easily spend there one entire week. That time of course is never available when not living in the area.


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